Saturday, August 8, 2009

William Hart Laws Memories of Granddad Laws, By E. Wayne Laws

William Hart Laws was born 16 Sept. 1950, Brandon, Suffolk, England to Benjamin Laws and Mary Hart. My memories of Granddad began when I was around seven or eight years of age. He lived across the street, west, from Dad and Mother’s home in Blanding, Utah. Granddad was about 78 years old. Mother cooked meals for Granddad as she prepared meals for our family. My brothers and sisters and I took turns taking a tray of food to him. We all wanted to be the one to take it to Granddad because besides loving him, we knew there would likely be a treat in it for us. I remember putting the tray on the kitchen table and just as I would get to the door to leave, my dear little granddad would say “Just a minute.” He would then go into his bedroom. I could picture in my mind’s eye – Granddad sticking his chubby hand into a paper bag, because I could hear the rustling of paper, then he would come out with two or three pieces of hard tack candy for me. That might not sound like much of a treat to some folks, but during the depression, a couple with a family of seven weren’t able to provide many things in the way of treats, even hard tack candy.

Granddad was a typical Englishman, he carried some hard tack candy in his vest pocket, also, and it seemed like he always had a piece of it in his mouth. It was a special treat to me when he occasionally reached in his vest and then handed a piece of that wonderful candy to me.

I remember Granddad as a short chubby man who, most of the time, spoke with authority, especially when he would say, “It’s 9 o’clock, time all honest folks were in bed and thieves were a travelin.”

I was eleven or twelve and was at Granddad’s when the crude wooded crate containing Grandmother’s head stone was delivered. It was unloaded out on top of the cellar. As Granddad tore the crate apart, to our surprise, he discovered a nickel which had been unintentionally dropped and had wedged between the newly poured stone and the crate. Granddad picked it up and quickly put it in his pocket. We then inspected the stone where the coin had pressed hard enough to wear a round, rough spot in the upper left hand corner. I share this incident so that anyone observing the stone, which is in the Blanding cemetery, can see that rough spot and know what it is and the interesting incident behind it.

I remember of many times peeking through the cracks of a shed at Granddad’s to see the little green and red wood freight wagon in there. Any of the grandchildren who knew about it kind of coveted it, but we all knew that it was to go to Aunt Wilma’s son, Teddy. In the late 1980’s I fell heir to a badly abused one that I picked up at the garbage dump. In spite of the pitiful state it was in, I restored it to an almost perfect condition. I painted it forest green and bright red as Granddad’s was. These wagons were large enough for a little boy to pull his pals around in and were a real pride and joy to those lucky enough to own one.

A fussy man was Granddad—his corn had to be planted ‘just right.’ That’s what Granddad did his last day of life—plant corn ‘just right.’ The last person Granddad spoke to was me and I was the last one to speak to him, this is because he and I were planting corn in his garden plot. At about 11:00 a.m. he told me he was tired and was going to go rest a bit. The porch on the east side of his house was a big one, 8 x 12 and was roofed. He often would lie on this porch with a pillow under his head. It was to this porch that he retired at this time. When I went home, Dad’s question was “Why?” “Granddad got tired and went to rest for awhile.” I spent a couple of hours helping Dad get things ready to go to the ranch, then Dad went to check on Granddad. He found him still sleeping. It was unusual for him to nap for so long a time and it caused Dad some concern, so he kept an eye out towards that house across the road. Checking later Dad found that Granddad had left the porch and had gone into the house to lie on his bed. Being the meticulous Englishman that he was he had locked the door for privacy. I must mention here that Granddad was hard of hearing and didn’t rouse to Dad’s call. Dad got his own key so he could go in and check to see if all was well. Granddad seemed to be sleeping normally but Dad remained concerned over his father, so he didn’t make his intended trip to the ranch but stayed, instead, to keep check on Granddad. He also let other family members know of his concern for this dear old man.

Granddad was not alone, but was surrounded by loving family, when he peacefully slept his way into Paradise. This he did on May 19, 1933. He was prepared for burial by Relief Society sisters, as there was no mortuary near at that time. His body was tenderly and carefully cleaned, after which, ice-filled two quart bottles were packed around him until almost time for the funeral services. Ben Redd had built the coffin and Granddad was lovingly dressed in his temple clothing and placed in it.

I feel privileged to have known and associated with a man such as Granddad. He was special to me.

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